Last Friday, for the first time since the end of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war, Lebanese Hezbollah fired rockets into Israel in retaliation for Israeli airstrikes. This development has led to backward reporting by the western media, and the US government blaming Hezbollah for the entire situation. But will this also lead to a possible war between the Israeli military and Lebanon?
In a shock to the Israeli political and military establishment, Hezbollah fired 20 rockets at the occupied Shebaa Farms area, specifically targeting open areas as a message to Israel. The group claimed responsibility for the strike almost immediately and issued a statement clarifying that the attack had been carried out in response to Israeli airstrikes launched on Thursday.
Israel’s media, military, and political class – as usual – came out with multiple contradicting narratives as to exactly how many rockets had been intercepted and what its military response was or will be. But the root of the problem on the Israeli side was a fatal miscalculation on their “northern front”; instead of dealing with Lebanon for what it is, they chose to treat it like the Gaza Strip.
On Saturday, the Secretary General of Lebanese Hezbollah, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, delivered a speech in which he touched on the issue of the exchange in fire. He stated clearly that since 2006, Israel had not launched any airstrikes against Lebanese territory in this manner and that in order to deter Israel from doing this again, Hezbollah would respond directly to any such Israeli aggression.
How Did This All Escalate?
During the 11-day Israeli onslaught against the Gaza Strip, back in May, Palestinian armed groups in southern Lebanon had launched three separate rocket attacks against Israel. Israel also shot dead an unarmed Lebanese protester along the border. Rocket fire additionally came from Syria during this time, as thousands of Palestinian demonstrators from Jordan stormed the Israeli border.
However, Israel did not at that time choose to strike Lebanese territory, likely for fear of dragging Hezbollah into the conflict. But despite the decision to not enter the battle against Israel, by Lebanon’s Hezbollah, the victory that the Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip achieved against Israel militarily, set the stage for a completely different regional equation.
The Palestinian ‘Joint Room of armed resistance factions’ were able to succeed in driving the Israeli military into cowering miles away from their separation fence with Gaza, continually launching attacks from afar and leading the situation to a ceasefire. The military operation launched by the Palestinian armed groups in Gaza was named Saif al-Quds (Sword of Jerusalem); the operations they conducted ultimately shocked the region, as they managed to hit Israel harder than ever before, whilst taking minimal military losses.
This 11-day conflict, unlike before, included multiple fronts using different tactics against the Israeli occupation forces. Instead of just having to face Gaza’s armed groups, Israel was facing the people of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Palestinian citizens of Israel. Also included in the fight were the Palestinians of the diaspora, who, like was noted above, took action from foreign countries.
Following the murderous Israeli rampage against Gaza’s civilian population in May, Hezbollah’s Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah delivered a speech in which he stated that the ‘axis of resistance’ [to Israel and Western forces] would work to impose the condition that regional war would come as a result of Israel attacking worshippers at the holy site of al-Aqsa Mosque.
Back in mid-July, Israeli occupation forces accompanying thousands of illegal settlers stormed the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem and attacked Palestinian worshippers. During the first two-days of Eid al-Adha, an important religious holiday for Muslims, Israel decided to strike Syria unprovoked as well. On the night that they struck, Israel hit areas surrounding Aleppo in Syria, hours later sirens then blared in the Israeli-held upper-Galilee, caused by rocket fire from southern Lebanon.
It was established that the Palestinian armed groups in South Lebanon had again taken action against Israel and it was speculated that this was done as revenge for the attacks on worshippers at the al-Aqsa compound, days before. Israel fired shells into open areas in southern Lebanon, at that time, in response to the Palestinian rocket fire.
Last Wednesday, rockets were again fired from Southern Lebanon by Palestinian armed groups, which struck Kiryat Shimona in northern Israeli held territory. The rockets had caused a large fire to burn, but still incurred no casualties to Israel. In instant response to the rocket fire, Israel again struck southern Lebanon with tank and artillery munitions in open spaces near the border.
But Israel did not choose to stop there, instead they attacked multiple times, including after dark and used their airstrikes to target deeper into Lebanese territory, firing closer to civilian areas, including a Palestinian refugee camp. The usage of airstrikes, after several responses had already come, was a clear indication that Israel sought to stamp its authority over Lebanon, in a similar way as it tries to do with Gaza.
In the Gaza Strip, Israel has already become a laughing stock for its childishly predictable responses, but in Lebanon this is not a simple game that they can play. They must now consider that in Lebanon is the group capable of hitting any target in Israel, which was previously relatively weak compared to what it is today, and yet had defeated Israel’s military in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war.
Not only this, but after Hezbollah’s response was followed by threats from the Israeli political and military establishment of further aggression, groups belonging to Iraq’s PMU and Yemen’s Ansarallah have vowed to join in on responding to Israeli attacks on Lebanon. The Gaza Strip, following Hezbollah’s response strikes during the day, was bombed at night by Israel, after balloons with flaming objects attached were sent towards Israeli-held farmland.
This means that Israel’s miscalculated aggression has perhaps now opened up at least four different fronts on which they may have to fight in the future. If this miscalculated irrational aggression continues from Israel, many other fronts could also potentially open up for it, including Iran which it threatened to strike last week.
Despite this, however, instead of attempting to calm things down, the United States government has jumped in to blame Hezbollah for responding to Israeli aggression against their country and is backing Israel’s murderous behaviour, which may prove suicidal if it makes more mistakes.